Local man kicked out of Recovery Court program, returned to jail

LACONIA — After a hearing held in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division during the last week of March, Judge Jim Carroll agreed to terminate one of the Recovery Court participants.

In a ruling issued on April 8, Carroll said Mark Sargent, formerly of Gilmanton, was being terminated and returned to jail for dishonesty to the Recovery Court treatment team and the court.

"At each stage of the program, the defendant has lied about his actions until he is caught..., Carroll wrote.

Recovery Court is a year-old program administered through Horizons Counseling Center that incorporates volunteer efforts from the the Belknap County Attorney, Belknap County Restorative Justice, the Belknap County Department of Corrections as well as the N.H. Office of Probation and Parole, the N.H. Public Defenders Office and local police departments.

Those who are allowed to participate must be facing criminal charges where a guilty plea could result in incarceration. Participants must also admit to having a substance abuse problem, agree to intense alcohol and drug therapy, and perform 200 hours of community service.

Testimony for Sargent's termination came primary from Horizons Director Jacqui Abikoff and Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen.

Specifically, the court noted that Sargent falsified documents regarding his attending sobriety meetings. He was dishonest with the court and was sanctioned on January 14.

On January 21, the day he was committed to serve 30 days, the court learned he had used drugs.

Abikoff said he misrepresented his address to his probation officer and said he was living in Gilmanton when he was actually living in Franklin. One component of participating in Recovery Court is residence in Belknap County.
In addition, the Court found Sargent had made little to no effort to perform any of his community service.

Public Defender Eric Wolpin represented Sargent at the hearing and noted that he client has had issues with depression but was not being treated.

He also said that the family member who had housed him in Gilmanton was no longer willing to do so and so Sargent had moved in with his mother in Franklin.

Guldbrandsen also favored Sargent's termination. She said his lack of effort into his own rehabilitation coupled with the limited resources of the program meant not only was he unwilling to help himself, he was potentially stopping someone else from entering the program.

As to the overall program, Guldbrandsen said that while it was "too bad" that Sargent had to be terminated and returned to jail, she said there has to be accountability for Recovery Court to work.

Sargent had pleaded guilty to contempt of court of October 8, 2013 and was sentenced to serve six months in the House of Corrections. He will now serve his entire sentence but is credited with 60 days of pretrial confinement.